Quirky Berkeley: Vintage toys and ‘Christmasiana’ sale

Photo: John Storey
Photo: John Storey

Last month, I wrote about a sale by Geneva and Julie Addison of the first half of a fantastic collection of Victorian Christmas ornaments that had been assembled by Ron Morgan.

The Addisons are selling the second half of the collection this weekend, along with a breathtaking 1960s through 1980s toy collection.

There isn’t anything at this sale that wouldn’t brighten and render quirky your home. Very cool things!

The back story on the toys is, well, a little sad. Dennis Jenkins owns Lulu’s Hauling and Lulu’s Cyclery. When someone dies without an heir in San Francisco, the Sheriff contracts with Jenkins to clear out their house or apartment. Jenkins gets to keep the stuff if there is stuff worth keeping. There usually isn’t.


Julie Addison has worked with Jenkins before. Here, he called her to report a Sunset District house that was chock full of vintage joys, mostly from the late 1960s onward. The owner had died without heirs.

“Hoarding” is such a judgmental word, but it must be said the homeowner had accumulated a lot of toys. It was clear that she loved her childhood things. She didn’t play with the toys: most are nearly mint in box. She just loved them.

Julie Addison teamed up with Jenkins to clean out the house in question. Over a period of several months, they worked their way through the house and collection. The fruits of their labor, and a woman’s obsessive collecting, join the Ron Morgan ‘Christmasiana’ for sale.

Photo: John Storey
Photo: John Storey
Photo: John Storey
Photo: John Storey
Photo: John Storey
Photo: John Storey
Photo: John Storey
Photo: John Storey

There are Atari consoles and controls and many Atari games (shown above).  .

Photo: John Storey
Photo: John Storey

They rock a strong 1980s vibe.


There are many board games for sale, easily more than a hundred.

Photo: John Storey
Photo: John Storey
Photo: John Storey

The board games are not the usual suspects. Most I had never heard of. The playing pieces for most of the games are still in plastic — never opened or played.

Photo: John Storey
Photo: John Storey

Many of the artists I have met in my Quirky Berkeley quest cite Mad magazine as a major force in their early lives. Mad was undoubtedly a disruptive force in American popular culture for decades.

Photo: John Storey
Photo: John Storey

Not pictured here — dozens, scores of Dr.Who books.

Photo: John Storey
Photo: John Storey

There are hundreds, literally hundreds, of plastic Breyer horses for sale. Breyer has long been a leader in producing model horses.


Photo: John Storey
Photo: John Storey
Photo: John Storey

The collector was a Star Wars fan. Her original fan club cards (Charter Member #42828) are included in the sale. For those who need reminding, The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It is an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together.

Photo: John Storey

Everywhere you turn in the sale space there is another icon of American popular culture of the 1960s, 1970s, or 1980s.

Photo: John Storey

Sea monkeys (brine shrimp) hit the market in 1957, a year after ant farms were popularized.

Harold von Braunhut collaborated with marine biologist Anthony D’Agostino to develop the proper mix of nutrients and chemicals in dry form that when added to plain tap water would create a shrimp-friendly habitat. They were initially called “Instant Life” but von Braunhut changed the name to “Sea-Monkeys” in 1962. 

Sea-Monkeys were intensely marketed in comic books throughout the 1960s and early 1970s. Comic-book illustrator Joe Orlando made most of the advertisement illustrations. Orlando was the associate publisher of Mad and the vice president of DC Comics

Photo: John Storey

The sale also includes another big batch of Christmas ornaments and ephemera collected by flower-arranging/antique shop genius Ron Morgan.

Photo: John Storey
Photo: John Storey
Photo: John Storey
Photo: John Storey
Photo: John Storey
Photo: John Storey
Photo: John Storey

Morgan’s collecting modus operandi  seems to have been —if one example of a piece is beautiful, ten examples are even more beautiful.

Photo: John Storey
Photo: John Storey

These ceramic Santa boots struck me as the quirkiest of the Christmas show. Many were sold with candy in the boots. For me, the shelf full of red ceramic Santa boots is at the pinnacle of whimsical (another word for quirky).

The toys and Christmas objets were all collected with great love, and that love informs the room and sale. Ron Morgan’s joy in collecting vintage Christmas ornaments and decorations permeates the room. As Julie Addison said of the woman who died in he midst of her toy collection, “She loved her childhood things.”

Bring to this the passion of Addison mother and daughter. Their knowledge of that which they are selling is stunning, and they grok the collecting ethos and all that the ornaments and toys represent. It all adds up — collected with love, sold with love. It surrounds us and penetrates us as we browse.

A person who wants a little more quirk in their home couldn’t do better this weekend than visiting the sale. Same for a person who wants a lot more quirk in their home.

Sale dates: Saturday Nov. 18, Sunday Nov. 19
Sale hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Location: 3054 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley 94705

Tom Dalzell, a labor lawyer, created a website, Quirky Berkeley, to share all the whimsical objects he has captured with his iPhone. The site now has more than 8,000 photographs of quirky objects around town as well as posts where the 30-year resident muses on what it all means.